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Monday, December 22, 2008

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New Year's Day 2008

This article is about the date January 1 in the Gregorian calendar. For other uses, see New Year's Day (disambiguation).

New Year's Day is the first day of the New Year. On the modern Gregorian calendar, it is celebrated on January 1, as it was also in ancient Rome (though other dates were also used in Rome). In all countries using the Gregorian calendar, except for Israel, it is a public holiday, often celebrated with fireworks at the stroke of midnight as the new year starts. January 1 on the Julian calendar corresponds to January 14 on the Gregorian calendar, and it is on that date that followers of some of the Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate the New Year. !


  • 1 Modern practices
  • 2 History
  • 3 Other celebrations on January 1
  • 4 Specific, high-profile or common celebrations
    • 4.1 New Year's Day
    • 4.2 New Year's Eve
  • 5 Images associated with New Year's Day
    • 5.1 New Year's babies
  • 6 See also
  • 7 External links

Modern practices

January 1 marks the end of a period of remembrance of a particular passing year, especially on radio, television, and in newspapers, which usually starts right after Christmas Day. Publications often have year-end articles that review the changes during the previous year. Common topics include politics, natural disasters, music and the arts, and the listing of significant individuals who died during the past year. Often there are also articles on planned or expected changes in the coming year, such as the description of new laws that often take effect on January 1.

This day is traditionally a religious feast, but since the 1900s has become an occasion for celebration the night of December 31, called New Year's Eve. There are often fireworks at midnight. Depending on the country, individuals may be allowed to burn fireworks, even if it is forbidden the rest of the year.

It is also a memorable occasion to make New Year's resolutions, which they hope to fulfill in the coming year; the most popular ones in the western world include to stop tobacco smoking or drinking alcohol, or to lose weight or get physically fit.[1]

Many groups organize Polar Bear Plunges on this day.


See also: Old Style and New Style dates, Julian year (calendar), and Funicular calendar

Originally observed on March 15 in the old Roman Calendar, New Year's Day first came to be fixed in January 1, 153 BC, when the two Roman consuls, after whom - in the Roman calendar - years were named and numbered, began to be chosen on that date, for military reasons. However, dates in March, coinciding with the first day of spring, or commemorating the Annunciation of Jesus, along with a variety of Christian feast dates were used throughout the Middle Ages, though calendars often continued to display the months in columns running from January to December in the Roman fashion.

Among the 7th-century pagans of Flanders and the Netherlands it was the custom to exchange gifts at the New Year, a pagan custom deplored by Saint Eligius (died 659 or 660), who warned the Flemings and Dutchmen, "[Do not] make vetulas, [little figures of the Old Woman], little deer or iotticos or set tables [for the house-elf, compare Puck] at night or exchange New Year gifts or supply superfluous drinks [another Yule custom]." The quote is from the vita of Eligius written by his companion Oueen..

Most countries in Western Europe officially adopted January 1 as New Year's Day somewhat before they adopted the Gregorian calendar. The Feast of the Annunciation, March 25 (9 months before December 25), was the first day of the new year in England until the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar in 1752. The March 25th date was called Annunciation Style; the January 1 date was called Circumcision Style, because this was the date of the Feast of the Circumcision, being the eighth day counting from December 25.

Other celebrations on January 1

Some churches celebrate the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ on January 1, based on the belief that Jesus was born on December 25, and that, according to Jewish tradition, his circumcision would have taken place on the eighth day of his life (which would be January 1). The Catholic Church has also given the name Feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God to their holy day on January 1.

Specific, high-profile or common celebrations

New Year's Day

  • In England and Scotland an extra round of football fixtures is played (unless New Year's Day falls on a Friday or Sunday).
  • In Pasadena, California, United States, the Tournament of Roses is held, with revelers viewing the parade from the streets and watching on television, followed by the Rose Bowl football game.
  • The aforementioned Rose Bowl football game is one of several postseason bowl games played in college football in the United States (though in recent years it, due to its involvement in the BCS, has not always fallen on New Year's Day; changes in the BCS mean that the Rose Bowl will return as a perennial New Year's Day fixture).
  • Vienna New Year Concert, in Austria.
  • Polar Bear Clubs: in many northern hemisphere cities near bodies of water, they will have a tradition of people plunging into the cold water on New Year's Day. The Coney Island Polar Bears Club in New York is the oldest cold-water swimming club in the United States. They have had groups of people enter the chilly surf since 1903.
  • In Philadelphia, the Mummers Parade is held on Broad Street.
  • Hindu New Year, which falls at the time and date Sun enters Mesha.
  • Hindus celebrate the new year by paying respects to their parents and other elders and seek their blessings. They also exchange tokens of Good Wishes (Kai Vishesham).
  • The New Year's Day Parade is held in London. Performers include acts from each of the city's 32 boroughs, as well as entertainment from around the world.

New Year's Eve

Main article: New Year's Eve

Taipei 101 New Year's fireworks in Taipei, Taiwan in 2008.

  • In Brazil, celebrations are held around the nation. Most famous is the celebration in Rio de Janeiro which occurs in Copacabana beach, drawing 1.5 to 2.5 million people.
  • In Australia, celebrations are held around the nation, especially in Sydney, where one of the world's largest fireworks displays draws 1 to 1.5 million people to the harbour. Australia is one of the first countries in the world to celebrate the new year.
  • In New York City, the world famous 1,070-pound, 6-foot-diameter Waterford crystal ball located high above Times Square is lowered starting at 11:59:00 p.m., or the last minute of the year, and reaches the bottom of its tower at the stroke of midnight. It is sometimes referred to as "the big apple" like the city itself; the custom derives from the time signal that used to be given at noon in harbors.
  • Other ball drops occur in Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro and Sydney Harbour.
  • In The Netherlands, Denmark and other European countries, the New Year is greeted with massive private fireworks. This day is also the occasion to make bonfires of discarded Christmas trees in some countries.
  • In Russia the New Year is greeted by fireworks and drinking champagne. The New Year is considered a family celebration, with lavish dinner tables and gifts. The president of Russia normally counts down the final seconds of the "old year", as it is called in Russia. A giant clock tower chimes in the new year, and it is customary to make a wish with each chime.
  • In South Korea, the most popular way of celebrating New Year's Day is to travel to Jung dong jin, the place on the peninsula where the Sun can first be seen each day.
  • Junkanoo parade, in Nassau, Bahamas.
  • Some mayors in North America hold New Year levees.
  • In Scotland, there are many special customs associated with the New Year. For more information, see Hogmanay, the Scots name for the New Year celebration.
  • Japanese New Year in Japan.
  • The Peach Drop in Underground Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia, United States.
  • In Davos, Switzerland, the final match of the Spengler Cup Ice Hockey Tournament is usually held on this day by tradition.
  • In the Philippines, people light fireworks, loud firecrackers, booming sound system, bamboo canons as well as make a lot of noise to ward off evil spirits. Coins are also jumbled in tin cans to make noise with the belief that this will bring more money to the revelers.
  • One country that uses the Gregorian calendar for business but does not formally celebrate a Dec 31/Jan 1 New Years holiday is Israel, this mainly due to objections by religious parties on the holiday's Christian religious origins. However, many secular Israelis do partake in some sort of informal celebration, especially if they have European or North American origins.
  • It is also very popular to kiss loved ones on New Years Eve to celebrate love and happiness.

Adoption of 1 January

It took quite a long time before 1 January again became the universal or standard start of the civil year. The years of adoption of 1 January as the new year are as follows -


Start year[4][5]





Holy Roman Empire (Germany)


Spain, Portugal


Prussia, Denmark[6] and Norway




Southern Netherlands




Dutch Republic








Britain and
British Empire
except Scotland




1 March was the first day of the numbered year in the Republic of Venice until its destruction in 1797, and in Russia from 988 until 1492 (AM 7000). 1 September was used in Russia from 1492 until the adoption of the Christian era in 1700 via a December 1699 decree of Tsar Peter I (previously, Russia had counted years since the creation of the world—Anno Mundi).

Autumnal equinox day (usually 22 September) was "New Year's Day" in the French Republican Calendar, which was in use from 1793 to 1805. This was primidi Vendémiaire, the first day of the first month.

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